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Infill by design

Solving Kelowna’s missing middle
Performance Infill team members seen here are: Andrei Buracu, investor; Jamela Van Steinburg, partner; Sandra Matlock, development coordinator; and Andrew Gaucher, partner.

By the time the Province of BC mandated local governments to change zoning to allow for greater density on single-family and duplex lots, Kelowna was already heading down that road.

Planners and civic politicians in the fast-growing city—looking to tackle unaffordability and create more sustainable housing options to address projected growth—had begun work to revise zoning and allow more density in established single-family home neighbourhoods. Along the way they tried to educate the public on how they could participate in developing infill housing.

Sometimes known as the “missing middle,” infill housing is that which “fits within” an existing neighbourhood without significantly altering its character or appearance. Infill housing could include: building a new home on an empty lot; adding secondary suites, carriage homes and laneway homes; replacing a single-detached home with a duplex or a fourplex; or subdividing an existing lot to allow construction of additional units.

With the city embracing such projects, plus provincial housing legislation forcing local governments’ hands, and the current real estate investment climate that’s risky for non-landowners, Andrew Gaucher predicts growth in homeowner demand for development services. He and industry colleague Jamela Van Steinburg, CEO of VLS Developments, began talks in January around the possibilities of working together to better serve this growing niche.

Performance Infill, born from those discussions, was designed as a full-service company to guide and educate homeowners in expanding the residential use of their properties—from concept to construction to sale, in some cases, and everything in between.

“We both see there is going to be a lot of need for help bringing this stuff to market,” Andrew says, adding that both he and Jamela have worked on infill projects the past several years. “Both of us have experience in the construction and development side of things, so it made sense to create an intentional entity to take advantage of [the environment] and really create these great neighbourhoods through infill.”

He’s seen and heard much public interest in this segment, mostly “quite positive, optimistic and excited,” he says. “It’s almost like a sponge; the more you put out, the more interest and more questions there are, and they’re very good. And in terms of the groundwork being laid and a high level of fluency amongst the planners here locally, Kelowna is doing very well in that regard.”

He’s kept his ear to the ground on this topic for nearly a decade and frequently posts on social media about the market realities of infill projects.

Part of that includes the financial aspects and expected rates of return. The more equity in a property, the better the land economics work for the owner, he explains.

Performance Infill team members seen here are: Andrei Buracu, investor; Jamela Van Steinburg, partner; Sandra Matlock, development coordinator; and Andrew Gaucher, partner. Lia Crowe

“It makes more sense right now for primary-user owners as opposed to people who are primarily driven only for investment.”

A third-generation member of the Gaucher development family—GGroup is one of Kelowna’s busiest residential and commercial development firms—Andrew has plenty of experience with infill projects, most recently through Dynamic Constructors, a division of GGroup for which he serves as president.

Likewise for his business partner Jamela, whose infill projects have ranged from fourplexes to mid-size condo buildings. She also brings expertise in community engagement, regulatory expertise and residential sales and marketing to the table.

Supporting the two principals is a team of skilled and experienced staff who help guide their projects.

Passionate about architecture, design and sustainable construction technologies, Andrew sees the new company being a facilitator for its clients, many of whom have little experience in the development world.

“Originally, you’re facilitating between the owner and the designer, in trying to interpret the dream for your house. After the design component, you’re a facilitator between the owner and the municipality and land-use planners to make sure you can get it through the regulatory environment. After that you’re a facilitator between the owner and the sub-contractors to make sure you can get this built.

“In the end,” he says, “the idea is to be as close to schedule and budget as you can and facilitate the completion of this vision that ultimately the owner starts with.”

Noting that “sustainable housing,” as the city calls it, means different things to different people, he defines it as a three-legged stool that accounts for environmental sustainability, affordability to the client, and financial viability.

Dynamic Constructors, for example, has built a reputation for its environmental construction practices that prioritize energy efficiency.

In terms of affordability, Andrew says, “We’re really big believers that extra thoughtful design can save a lot of money.”

Spending time to consider simple swap-outs of one material or product for another that is just as durable or looks as good can reduce cost, he adds. In some instances, more environmentally friendly products might be available for the same price.

Performance Infill, based on a premise of vertical integration that combines Andrew and Jamela’s broad experience in all aspects of the development and marketing process, aims to provide solid advice to clients looking to make good financial decisions.

Not only that, helping people stay in the neighbourhoods they have come to love benefits everyone, Andrew says.

“We’re going to be building these in pre-existing communities with pre-existing cultures and for the most part these are already going to be part of a neighbourhood,” he says. “We’re creating more opportunities for these communities to flourish and to be diverse.”

To find more about infill housing options through Performance Infill, contact Andrew at or Jamela at